FACT (facilitates chromatin transcription) is a protein complex that allows RNA polymerase II (RNAPII) to overcome the nucleosome-induced barrier to transcription. While abundant in undifferentiated cells and many cancers, FACT is not abundant or is absent in most tissues. Therefore, we screened for additional proteins that might replace FACT upon differentiation. We identified two proteins, lens epithelium-derived growth factor (LEDGF) and hepatoma-derived growth factor 2 (HDGF2), each containing two high mobility group A (HMGA)–like AT-hooks and a methyl-lysine reading Pro-Trp-Trp-Pro (PWWP) domain that binds to H3K36me2 and H3K36me3.LEDGF and HDGF2 colocalize with H3K36me2/3 at genomic regions containing active genes. In myoblasts, LEDGF and HDGF2 are enriched on most active genes. Upon differentiation to myotubes, LEDGF levels decrease, while HDGF2 levels are maintained. Moreover, HDGF2 is required for their proper expression. HDGF2 knockout myoblasts exhibit an accumulation of paused RNAPII within the transcribed region of many HDGF2 target genes, indicating a defect in early elongation.
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